Sebastian Schipper Victoria Interview


Sebastian Schipper Victoria Interview

Sebastian Schipper Victoria Interview

Cast: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau
Director: Sebastian Schipper
Rated: MA15+
Running Time: 140 minutes

Synopsis: Victoria, a young woman from Madrid, meets four local guys outside a nightclub. Sonne and his friends are real Berliners who promise to show her a good time and the real side of the city. But these boys have got themselves into hot water: they owe someone a dangerous favour that needs repaying that evening. As Victoria's flirtation with Sonne begins developing into something more, he convinces her to come along for the ride. As the night rolls on, what started out as a good time, quickly spirals out of control.

As dawn approaches, Victoria and Sonne realize: it's all or nothing and they abandon themselves to a heart-stopping journey into the depths of the night.

Victoria
Release Date: March 10th, 2016

 

Directors Statement

 
This film is not a movie; it's not about a bank robbery. It is bank robbery.


Victoria was shot in one single take. Two hours and fourteen minutes. No cuts. No cheap tricks. No expensive ones either. Just one shot.


On April 27th 2014, we started the camera a little after 4:30am in a club we'd built ourselves (in order to keep locations close to each
other), and after 2 hours and 14 minutes – after we'd run, walked, strolled and climbed through 22 locations, had more than 150 extras
handled by 6 assistant directors and seven actors followed in succession by 3 sound crews - we were done - at 06:54 am. The sun had
slowly risen while we filmed, and Laia Costa finally walked away from our cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grovlen, who looked like he had just run a marathon. Well, he had. We all had.


Why did we do it? It's crazy. A little stupid, too. Well, why do people rob banks? For the money! Of course! But maybe it's not the only reason.


The first thought I ever had about this project was that I realised that in my life I would never rob a bank. And I didn't like the thought. I
believe it would be an experience like no other. Not hurting, wounding or even kidnapping people, but to enter a zone – dark and full of
fear – to take a gun and demand everything, right away. To receive – not because you deserve it; not because you behaved well or worked hard – but to fast forward and demand it all: Right now! Right here!


Hemingway wanted to shoot an elephant. He knew it was the ultimate sin, but he did it anyway. Or maybe that's why he did it.
So, there it was: the idea to rob a bank; and the knowledge that we weren't robbers but filmmakers. But what if we were to shoot the entire film in one single take? The hour before the robbery – and the hour afterwards? That's how we meet the characters, hear their stories, feel their hopes, their despair, their urge to do one defining thing, one thing that will change it all. And also: why is it that there are so many films about bank robberies, and yet so very few that really make you feel the experience?


And isn't that, at heart, what it's really about? Not the robbery. Not a movie about a robbery. Not even a movie about a robbery without
a cut. But... the trip.


And the more I think about it, the more I believe that's why we even watch films to begin with: deep down it's not about stories, action,
jokes and characters, but about going somewhere and doing the undoable, demanding it all - Right now! Right here!

 

Interview with Sebastian Schipper

Question: Why is Victoria in Berlin, out at a nightclub by herself? Can you introduce your main character and tell us something about her situation?

Sebastian Schipper: Victoria has been a good girl all her life. She always followed all the rules and studied hard - but all of a sudden she's left with nothing. After practicing the piano for 16 years - seven hours each and every day - she's told that she is not good enough and that she can go home - that she's not needed or wanted anymore. Might she be a model for what can happen to the middle class? That even if we follow the rules, it often seems that the people who actually run things are less and less interested in respecting any kind of rules or moral compass? Maybe. At least I believe this is what she's feeling. Maybe she is not even aware of it - of this deep frustration, this sense of having been done wrong - and at the very same time blaming it all on yourself; and ascribing it to your own lack of talent and dedication - *YOU did not work and try hard enough!* - that really deep down it's somehow your own fault. That is Victoria.


Question: What inspired the decision to make your young heroine a Spanish girl, a foreigner living in Berlin, rather than a German? Are Victoria and Sonne representative of certain aspects of a quickly changing Berlin?

Sebastian Schipper: In the general narrative Germany is the rich, functioning straight A student in Europe. Spain does not seem to be on the edge like Greece - but nevertheless, news about young Spanish people left with few to no perspectives has become commonplace. These are young people who don't know what to do, where to go, or how to plan a future for themselves. And indeed, integrating all of these aspects was an influence on the decision to have my lead come from Spain. At the same time I wanted to show that the situation in Germany is also far from being perfect. For young people life is still a huge challenge - especially if you don't come from a privileged background. But above all of those aspects, I was also interested in the unconditional solidarity that young people share between themselves. The default setting seems to be - *I help you. I like you. Who are you? Where are you from?* For me this is very touching, full of hope - and most of all very real, not just a sugary concept.


Question: How did you cast Laia Costa as Victoria? And how did you end up settling on Frederick Lau (Oh Boy, The Wave) to play Sonne?

Sebastian Schipper: After having an awful call with an extremely snobby casting agent, we were lucky enough to talk to Luci Lenox in Spain. Halfway through the conversation she just said *Laia Costa*. We asked for a few more names - but as soon as we saw Laias' material we knew - we had found Victoria. For me Freddie Lau is the most exciting actor in Germany right know. He has all the potential to become a Jean Gabin - sometimes I even see some Brando in him. He is a force. He is what cinema is made for - and what true cinema is made of.


Question: Did you draw from any direct inspirations as far as films about young love, or situations that quickly and dangerously evolve, or characters getting in over their heads? What about movies involving heists or chases through the city?

Sebastian Schipper: No. Not at all. I have never been further away from *being inspired* by another film than I was with Victoria. Because there really is no reference point. A film in one single take? Not the *make believe* kind, but actually doing it? Beyond that one of our very first ideas was not to create a *me too* film. We didn't want to climb a tree that thousands had climbed before us - a safe tree! Most films that we see yearn after their own idols - every other mafia film wants to be *The Godfather* - *The Bourne Identity* has many many offspring. But we weren't even thinking about -the movie' in the first place: we wanted to create an experience - for the audience - but to do that the first step was to create it for us. The actors. At times we even approached the film as a side product of the experience we created. And in some way we also knew we had to neglect the *product* in order to produce something that had its own unique taste, smell, feel.


Question: What are some of the impressions or vibrations of Berlin that you hope shine through in your film?

Sebastian Schipper: I have no ambition to sell Berlin to anybody. I love the city. For me it's the best place in the world. But I am not on a mission. At the same time - is Berlin the perfect stage for this story? Yes. Absolutely. For me this city is still the definition of *right here, right now*.


Question: Why make this film in one shot and not a simpler, more traditional shoot? Is this a reaction to the current state of filmmaking and CGI where the impossible is almost commonplace?

Sebastian Schipper: Being against something is a motivation that won't get you far - or to any good place. I would rather try to find something worth fighting for. You know, I don't mind people playing *candy crush* ... Well, that's a lie. I hate it. Probably because I myself am always in danger of wasting my time on things like that ... how can I say this best... OK, one of my all time favorite quotes: *But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.* Aldous Huxley - BRAVE NEW WORLD That's the movies! That's cinema! That's why we go. But most of the time all that we see presented is 'comfort." More and more and more. Victoria is no candy crush. It's poetry, danger, freedom and sin.


Question: Was the script as perfectly precise and choreographed as the shoot had to be? Or did your narrative and story evolve as you worked on the film - whether in development, pre-production or during the shoot itself?

Sebastian Schipper: There was no script. We had 12 pages. Scenes, locations and general actions of the characters were written down. Everything else, and especially dialogue, was improvised. But at the same time this description does not really capture what we did at all. Since we shot the film in one take - and yes we did it more than once - we were able to see the (complete) film very early on. So we had the chance (and the challenge) to develop the ideas, the characters, the plot, the motivations much earlier than in a classic setup. We *cooked* right there, right then - on a super hot plate. Because we knew all the decisions had to be taken and then executed at that very moment - and - most of all - that they were final. The panic, the fear, the adrenalin, the endless euphoria when we knew we did it - so yes, it's more than a smart quote to say *This film is not a movie; it's not about a bank robbery. It is bank robbery.* We earned that quote.


Question: How did you rehearse for this film? Was everything exhaustively prepared and executed perfectly, or was leaving room for improvisation also part of the plan?

Sebastian Schipper: Both. Neither. I don't want to go into too much detail: but yes - nothing has to be rehearsed as precisely as an improvisation does.


Question: How did you manage to juggle all of the action and different locations, while at the same time directing your actors and insuring that the crew was handling the technical aspects of the production?

Sebastian Schipper: I don't know. Honestly, as I look back and remember the time of the shoot, it was the one time in my life that I felt a complete loss of control - which is not so much fun for directors. We are used to control, and we like to micromanage the degree to which an actor smiles, moves his hands, or to what extent his whisper has a touch of his real voice, or whether it's voiceless and barely audible. We have them redo these things to a point where they forget not only what the scene or the film is about - but where they where born. But here? All of that was gone. Completely. Gone. Helpless. No impact. So instead I had to learn to talk like a coach. I only had the halftime period of 15 minutes. So did we experience these classic moments when the coach gives the locker room speech, questioning whether the players have an ounce of any kind of pride left in them, or if the disgrace he witnessed is really all they have to offer this game, the world, their lives? Well, I'd rather let you be the judge of that …


Question: The music is very evocative can you tell us what brought you to collaborate with composer Nils Frahm?

Sebastian Schipper: Honestly, I had the luck of the fool that goes out for a stroll and finds some gold - except better: because somebody - my music supervisor that is - hands him the gold brick and says *here you go!* Fool: *... Not sure I'll really have any use for that ... *Supervisor: *Well, keep it for a while and you'll see ...*

 

Victoria
Release Date: March 10th, 2016


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